A growing body of research shows Los Angeles to be a region of extreme polarization, where rich and poor live in separate neighborhoods, surrounded by others like themselves.
Demographers at Wayne State University in Detroit recently found Greater Los Angeles to be the most economically segregated region in the country.[Rich, Poor Live Poles Apart in L.A. as Middle Class Keeps Shrinking, July 23, 2006 ]
It should be noted that New York City metropolitan area was the second most economically segregated area in the country.
Ms. Cleeland courageously explains:
Los Angeles' spot on the list can be explained, in part, by two factors that create bulges at each end of the economic spectrum: Large numbers of low-skilled immigrants earning low wages and a rarefied club of wealthy entertainment and business moguls.
Los Angeles County "has more billionaires than any other part of the country. It's also the capital of the working poor," said Peter Dreier, chairman of the Urban and Environmental Policy Program at Occidental College.
That wasn't always the case. A generation ago, the region was a model for the post-World War II, middle-class lifestyle. High-wage manufacturing jobs were abundant, particularly in the aerospace industry. When the industry collapsed in the early 1990s, many middle-class residents left the region. In the meantime, large numbers of immigrants arrived seeking work.